Angeles

Angeles City is in Pampanga province in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. The city is rich in history and heritage, with old and historical significant buildings dotting its landscape, but these days it is best known for its high concentration of casinos and sometimes questionable nightlife (though that's changing; see "Drink" below). Aside from these, it is also famous for its extreme sports adventures in the lahar flows of Mt. Pinatubo.

Understand

Angeles is a thriving regional city partly due to its long history of western influence originating from the fact that its Clark Freeport Zone was formerly the massive American Clark Airbase (previously named Fort Stotsenberg) from 1898 until 1991. In 1899, it became the seat of the Philippine government under General Emilio Aguinaldo and the site of the first anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence. After World War II, it had the highest concentration of American expatriates as well as Filipino mestizos, some of whom chose to permanently settle here. Today Angeles is known for its booming nightlife and is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination, particularly from South Korea. Its center, Balibago, is especially known for its fine restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. Within Balibago is the neon-lit Fields Avenue, known for its bars, nightclubs and what could be one of the world's largest concentration of go-go bars. Adjoining Clark Freeport Zone is the site of world-class resorts, casinos, duty-free shops and beautifully landscaped golf courses. The city, and the rest of the Pampanga region, is known as the culinary center of the Philippines.

Get in

By plane

Angeles is served by the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Freeport Zone, approximately 5 kilometers from the city proper. It has adequate travel facilities such as currency exchange, duty free shopping center, souvenir shops, free wireless internet, a tourist information center, hotel and travel agency representatives, and car rental services. The airport is where budget airlines like Air Asia fly to Kuala Lumpur, Tiger Airways fly to Singapore. Cebu Pacific fly to Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Cebu city. It also receives direct flights from Hong Kong, South Korea and Middle East from carriers such as Asiana Airlines and Cathay pacific. Domestic flights are offered by Cebu Pacific but only to Cebu city.

[Special note, July 2012: Proof of onward travel absolutely required to get into this airport when using Cebu Pacific. In other words, have a ticket onward or to elsewhere before attempting to check in your luggage or you will not be permitted to continue your journey.]

Because DMIA is a small airport, containing only one terminal, it is often considered a more efficient gateway into the Philippines than through heavily-congested Manila. The roadways around the airport are fairly rural, making transport between the airport and the city quick and hassle-free. Don't worry about finding transport as taxi drivers will heavily solicit you for patronage as you exit the airport. However, the taxi fares are steep compared to other modes of transportation. for example, the fare from the airport to Fields will cost P500 for just a 15 minute ride in a taxi. If alone, it is best to find a fellow traveler to share a taxi or walk to the Main road going passed the airport and take a Jeepney to Clark Gate for Just p12.

When going back to the airport from the Fields Ave during the daytime, jeepneys parked near the Clark AFB entrance are also an option. They're often not going to the airport itself, and normally wait until the jeepney is full - but by paying the higher price (P200 if you charter an empty one, less if you just want the driver to make a short detour to the airport) these inconveniences are resolved easily and cheaper than by hiring a taxi.

To get to the airport from Dau Bus Terminal the "cheap way": take a jeepney to "main gate" (P8). At "main gate" ask for the jeepneys to the airport. These drop you at the entrance of the airport parking (P12). You must then walk less than 5 minutes to the terminal building. Count 15–30 minutes in total. At maingate, some jeepney drivers will also offer to bring you to the terminal building for about P250, just insist that you want to go the cheap way. I am pretty sure that there are jeepneys from angeles (Fields Ave) to dau main gate (to be confirmed)

Beware that there is a P600 fee when leaving from this airport

By bus

This is the most common and economical way to get to Angeles from Metro Manila. Several air-conditioned bus lines ply from Manila to Angeles route with terminals scattered across the metropolitan area. It normally takes one-and-a-half hours to get to Angeles by bus. However, travellers are well advised to consider the unpredictable effect heavy traffic and downpours will have on the commute. In short, give yourself plenty of time to travel by bus. Provincial bus companies have scheduled trips from Manila to provinces to northern provinces and key cities. Five Star bus lines has a bus terminal near (1 km) from Manila airport. so is a good way of getting to Manila airport from Dau. the Five star bus lines fare is p 135.

By car

The best way from Manila to Angeles via car is taking the North Luzon Expressway which extends until Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, Pampanga. You may take either the Angeles Exit or Dau exit to get there. Another motorway, though narrow, is the McArthur Highway and visitors need to pass through the province of Bulacan to get to Angeles on both routes. It usually takes about 45 minutes to travel but it is twice the travel time if you plan to take the McArthur route due to heavy traffic along its stretch. Rental car companies can be found all over Manila and Angeles. If you don't know the routes, you can hire drivers by asking the attendant of the rent-a-car shop.

Get around

By jeepney

To hop on a colorful jeepney (small bus) is certainly the most affordable way to get around downtown. It is available 24 hours a day and it is the most famous mode of transportation in the country, which connects towns and cities together. Since jeepneys tend to be overcrowded with passengers, tourists carrying bulky luggage should consider traveling by taxi.

By taxi

Though more convenient for tourists, taxis are less common in Angeles and not normally used for travel outside the city. Rather, they are primarily used to tour around the Clark Freeport Zone and for transport to and from the airport. Simson's taxicab terminal can be found particularly next to Clark's main gate (opposite Jollibee's) and SM City-Clark mall in Balibago.

By trike

Trikes (or tricycles) are motorcycles with a small attached passenger cabin. They are restricted to low-speed roads and not permitted to enter the area surrounding the airport. Passengers of larger physical stature may find riding in them uncomfortable. Nevertheless, because of their slower speeds, trikes are generally a safe mode of transport. Groups of two can take a trike if one is comfortable riding behind the driver in the style of a moto-taxi.

Fares are negotiable, but in general 100 pesos will be a common request for all but the shortest or longest trips.

See

Do

Events

Sports

Leisure and nightlife

Buy

If you like to shop, MarQuee-Ayala Mall, Robinsons Place, Jenra Grand Mall, Nepo Mall, Saver's Mall and the SM City Clark are the places to go. These are mostly shopping malls with decent boutiques, department stores, supermarkets, hardware stores, movie theaters and over a hundred shops and restaurants.

Duty-free stores are to be found inside the Clark Ecozone, namely Pure Gold, Oriental, Parkson, Clark Interiors, Liberty, and Arjan that sell imported housewares, cooking items, snacks and branded clothes. Most of which are surplus so they are actually cheaper. Some of these stores have an extensive selection of cigarettes and perfumes as well.

The barratillos (cheap or thrift stores) crap the likes of which you cannot imagine. If you really want a native experience, go to one of these open-air "flea markets," there are several of them around town. Hop on a jeepney and have someone take you. There are many other fun places to shop household items, clothing, including audio-video equipment in a makeshift market called tiangge at bargain prices at Apo district every Friday. Twenty-four hour convenience stores, like 7-Eleven, are also found in the city from city proper to Balibago. Most locally owned stores, which they call sari-sari, sell retail items, especially the cigarettes that you can buy per stick or per pack.

Handicraft stores sell locally good and export-quality craftwork. The Rosa's Handicraft Gift Shop and Mhea's Custom Woodcraft have a large selection of gift items and are conveniently located in Balibago district. Stores selling souvenir shirts, woodcraft and other local stuff are also dotted along Fields Avenue and they are sold for cheaper prices.

Eat

Angeles is known for being the Culinary Center of the Philippines. This reputation reportedly goes back to the Spanish colonial times where it is said that the Kapampangan cook learned very quickly to improvise on Spanish dishes using local ingredients.

The culinary adventure in Angeles is sure to be an experience of a lifetime. A must-eat dish is "Sisig", which Angeles is famous for. From its humble beginnings in Aling Lucing's Eatery along Angeles' railroad to its present top-of-the-menu ranking in Manila's bars and nightclubs, sisig has come to conquer the Filipino drinkers' palate. It has become the quintessential pulutan fare — the default order that comes with every round of beer.

Other not-to-be-missed local mouth-watering cuisines are Dencio's kare-kare (another Kapampangan menu, which is a Philippine stew made from peanut sauce with a variety of vegetables, stewed oxtail, beef and occasionally offal or tripe), fresh papaya lumpia, tilapia in tausi sauce, adobong pugo, morcon, tortang bangus (milkfish stuffed with ground pork), Everybody's Cafe's camaru (fried cricket adobo), kilayin baboy (pork meat and lungs pickled in a marinade of vinegar or calamansi juice, usually along with garlic, onions and hot/sweet peppers), bringhe (local Spanish paella), bulanglang (meat or fish broth soured with guava fruit), Aling Luring's batute (a frog stuffed with ground and seasoned pork, then deep fried to a crisp), burong isda (fermented rice with fish or small shrimps), pork and carabao tocino, Bale Dutung's burong talangka (the fat of salted little crabs, very rich and laden with cholesterol but hard to resist), Filipinized pizza in a bilao at Armando's Pizza, brazo de mercedes, halo-halo from Razon's and Corazon's (a popular dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and milk, added with various boiled sweet beans and fruits, and served cold in a glass or bowl), Susie's Cuisine's famous pancit luglog (palabok), tibuk tibok (made from carabao's milk and also known as "maja blanca"), tocino del cielo (a richer version of leche flan) and turron de casoy.

If you are a person inclined to drinking beer and eating barbecue, then Frank & Jim, Ikabud, Whythaus Grill, Wishing Well, Marisol Steakhouses and the eateries along Angeles railroad crossing are certainly the spots for you. Street foods, such as fishballs and kikiams on sticks, are a must-try at Nepo Compound vendor stands.

If local cuisine is not your type, no need to worry as the city has a wide range of pretty decent restaurants to choose from with American, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and Korean cuisines.

A number of coffee shops are also to be seen even in the outskirts of the city that serve drip regular coffee, decaff, brewed coffee, espresso-based hot drinks, other hot and cold drinks, and snacks.

Drink

The infamous nightlife scene on Fields Avenue originally sprang up to service American military men stationed at the nearby Clark Air Force Base. But now, the adjoining Balibago district is home to many decent bars and karaoke joints. It has a number of clubs which fit any budget and personality. There are traditional clubs with DJ's and live band clubs. For an endless evening of dancing and pulsating music, head for the bright lights of Balibago. Fields Avenue and McArthur Highway are the places to head for go-go bars, comedy bar shows, sing-along or karaoke bars, nightclubs and drinking beer - it is a non-stop pleasure seven days a week, every day of the year.

Sleep

There are many nice hotels around the city, furnished with the luxury of modern day living with upgraded facilities to accommodate your needs. Some can be found along the Clark Perimeter Road while others within the Clark Freeport Zone. Lower-cost accommodation in the main entertainment area near Fields Ave., however, tends to be expensive by Asian standards, with prices starting around P800-1000, and the cheapest places are often fully booked. If you look for the budget options, while still in the bar area and walking distance from Fields Ave. proper, head along the Fields Ave. to the west, where it is no more traffic-free and continues along the Clark Freeport Zone fence as the Perimeter Road (Don Juico Ave.). Numerous cheap (P400-700) rooms can be found here, as well as more upmarket hotels (ABC Hotel. for example, which is also a well-known landmark in the area). The Perimeter Road is quite busy even at night, and so is relatively safe to walk home late, compared to the other streets around. Another option is to accept tricycle driver's "cheap hotel" tout - but, as everywhere, this may mean overpricing due to the driver's commission, more concerns about hotel security, and a P50 or more for a trike ride every time you go in and out (or a long walk, which may be not safe in the night time also).

Low Budget under 700

Connect

Internet cafes have become a common sight along university roads, at the malls, hotels and different establishments. You will have no trouble finding cheap and fast internet access. Usual rate ranges between PhP12 and PhP30 an hour. You will also find cheap gaming stations aside from internet access.

Prepaid SIM cards of local GSM operators (Globe, Smart, Sun) are widely available and cheap (P50-100). International calls, however, are not particularly cheap (though still much cheaper than roaming rates) and usually cost around US$0.40 per minute ($0.30 for Sun, but at the expense of network coverage quality). However, often they have promotions with lower call/SMS rates to the chosen countries - just ask the dealer about that.

Stay Healthy

Stay Safe

The tourist and entertainment areas are generally safe as it is filled with pedestrians and police around-the-clock. If you're male, you will likely get heavily solicited by street vendors pitching cigarettes and trike rides. However, they are usually nothing more than minor nuisances. They aren't persistent as long as you show disinterest. It’s the same with the begging population, which is small but visible.

However, venturing into the Clark Perimeter bar areas (around the ABC Hotel) after dark is not recommended or along Santos Street south of Wild Orchid Resort. The rule of thumb is, if it's not well-lit and populated at night, don't go there.

Furthermore, be extremely vigilant of street strangers pretending to know you. These scammers, often middle-aged male trike drivers, usually target solo tourists. With an extended hand, they would say something like "Hi, my friend, I met you at the hotel last night" or "Hey, remember me? I was your driver." Their initial goal is simply to get you talking and drawing down your guard. But their ultimate goal is to transport you to an illegal gambling den, brothel, or to set you up for theft or mugging. They will try to entice you by offering a free ride or to show you a new or secret bar. Ignoring random street strangers is essential advice. It's best not to confront them but to walk past saying "sorry, I'm late!" And definitely never go anywhere with them or show your wallet. Filipinos are known for their hospitality, but they're not that friendly to the point where they'd appear out of nowhere just to befriend you!

Lastly, do not engage with street prostitutes, some of whom are underaged or have criminal intent. There are countless stories of male patrons bringing a street prostitute to his hotel room only to be startled minutes later by police knocking on the door. The girl may claim rape and the police may demand a bribe to "settle" matters.

Go next

Explore the Philippines and more of Angeles City. There is still life outside of Fields Avenue and Clark Ecozone.

If leaving by airport, remember to carry enough cash through security for the P450 departure tax (P150 for domestic flights.) There is an ATM kiosk outside security, and at arrival times there is a change booth which sells pisos outside security, but it is closed when no flights are arriving. The change booth inside security will buy pisos for foreign currency but will not sell pisos, and there is no ATM inside security.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 24, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.